Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Review: The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones
One of the high notes of the latter days of 2013 was that the noir genre saw the birth of Broken River Books. Author J. David Osborne's Kickstarter-funded publishing project exploded onto the scene with five simultaneous releases, all featuring gorgeous Matthew Revert covers.
One of these releases is The Least of My Scars, one of the wildest, most twisted books I've had the pleasure of reading. Author Stephen Graham Jones is no stranger to the scene, and he is currently one of the most impressive writers working across genres, remaining at ease whether he's penning horror, noir, or bizarro stories. One thing he doesn't do is hold punches, and The Least of My Scars is one hard-hitting novel, giving readers a look into an extremely warped mind that is sure to leave it's mark.
The premise is one of a kind: serial killer William Colton Hughes finds himself caught by a local crime boss, who decides to utilize his talents. Posted up in an apartment that he never leaves, Hughes murders the people that his boss has delivered to his door. The system seems like it would be perfect for a man like Hughes, a constant stream of victims, anything else he wants delivered by the bosses henchmen, and a buffer of adjacent empty apartments connected to his in order to keep his business quiet. However, the isolation seems to further warp his already sick mind, and has him questioning reality.
Hughes is also the novel's narrator, and this is what really makes the novel shine. He makes for a completely unreliable narrator, very much unable to separate reality from his fantasies. His calculating, cold and sadistic side makes him very effective at what he does, although it's counter-balanced by his paranoia and debilitating fantasies, as well as bizarre OCD-style behaviors.
This book is not for everyone, and I mean that in a good way. Despite the over the top premise, the disturbed narration is scary. It's scary because Stephen Graham Jones managed to do such a convincing job. This isn't a narrative that goes away, days later I still find it festering in the back of my head.
This book is too good to be missed. It's bloody, it's scary, and at times it's even funny, which makes it even scarier. William Colton Hughes is destined to go down in the books among the greatest literary psychopaths and villains. So what are you waiting for? Go and knock on his door.